Thursday, 28 January 2016

Greek rugby

LSJ s.v. ἐπίσκῡρος reads, ", ball-game ( = ἐπίκοινος III) resembling Rugby football, Hsch., Poll.9.103, Sch.Pl.Tht.146a. II. governor, Call.Fr. 231, cf. Hsch.".

P.G.W. Glare in 'Liddell-Scott-Jones: Then and Now', Hyperboreus 3.2 (1997): 205-217, at 210, noted this entry and advised 'At the same time it is wise not to be too up-to-date. Under ἐπίσκυρος we have "a game resembly Rugby Football". This is no doubt more vivid than, say, "a ball game played between two sides", but it is dangerous to compare ancient with modern games, especially when there is, as is the case here, very little evidence. I can only say that, in so far as ancient sport showed a tendency to violence, the definition is more apt today than when Stuart Jones drafted it. Similarly ἀωιλιασταί are described as "navvies", a word with rich connotations in English, but quite [italics mine] unsuitable for the Greek context.'.

It is worth remembering that Glare was a Rugby player himself. Also, earlier in the article, indeed on the same page, he remarked on the ambiguity of English 'quite'. ἀωιλιασταί is a new entry in the 1968 Supplement (p. 29) for 'P.Cair.Zen.745.58 (iii BC)'. The same papyrus, which was published in 1931, is also cited in the revised entry for ἀωίλιον (line 61). In the Revised Supplement of 1996, these men were 'excavators'.

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